BBC Trust explains rise in Sir Michael Lyons' expenses

The BBC Trust has defended a 250 per cent rise in the average monthly expenses claimed by its chairman, Sir Michael Lyons.

Detailed expense accounts for all of the BBC trustees, covering the period between April and September 2008, were released this morning.

They reveal that Lyons claimed expenses of £35,126 in the six-month period – an average of £5,854 a month.

This compares with a £26,167 claim in the 11 months from his appointment in May 2007 to the end of the financial year in March last year – a £2,379 monthly average.

“Compared against the last set of published expenses, the chairman’s costs have increased,” the Trust said in the foreword to its expenses document.

“His overall costs reflect the increase in his duties since his arrival and a programme of visits to various parts of the UK and allow him to meet a wide range of stakeholders.”

Lyons has part-time access to a BBC car and driver, at a cost of £25,000 a year. He spent £8,157 on hotels and £5,449 on rail travel.

Total expenses paid to the BBC’s 12 trustees rose by 28 per cent – from £12,179 to £15,584 a month.

But, excluding Sir Michael Lyons, the monthly expenses bill fell slightly, down from £9,998 to £9,730 on average.

The total expenses payout in the 2007/08 financial year was £146,144. In the six months that followed, expenses totalled £93,505.

All of the BBC trustees are allowed to claim for satellite TV equipment and a basic monthly subscription, up to a maximum of £300 a year.

The Trust said this was to “to enable them to experience the full range of television and digital radio channels available in support of their responsibility supervising the BBC’s services and their operation within the wider media market”.

It said the satellite equipment remained the property of the BBC and was on loan.

The Trust also spent £3,836 on hospitality for “opinion formers” during the BBC Proms, and £9,804 on a hospitality event at the Wimbledon tennis championship.

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